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Tell me, and I forget; Show me, and I remember; Let me do, and I understand. Social Pedagogy in Essex. Sylvia Holthoff Gabriel Eichsteller ThemPra Social Pedagogy CIC. The Evolution of Social Pedagogy. “Children are a key to understanding a nation,

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social pedagogy in essex

Tell me, and I forget;Show me, and I remember;Let me do, and I understand.

Social Pedagogy in Essex

Sylvia Holthoff

Gabriel Eichsteller

ThemPra Social Pedagogy CIC

the evolution of social pedagogy
The Evolution of Social Pedagogy

“Children are a key to understanding a nation,

not only to comprehend the habits of a society

but also its collective intelligence and sustainability”

(DonataElschenbroich, German sociologist)

Social pedagogy as an academic discipline is a ‘function of society’ (Mollenhauer) – it describes how society thinks about children and young people, their education and upbringing.

Therefore, socialpedagogyiscloselyrelatedtosocietyat a given time andplace, itiscontextspecific.

the development of pedagogic thought
The Development of Pedagogic Thought

“We should not teach children the sciences,but give them a taste for them”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778):

  • Humans are naturally good and are corrupted through society’s influence
  • Upbringing and education in harmony with nature
  • Emile (1762) describes healthy upbringing of a fictitious character
  • Facilitating opportunities for learning depending on where the child is
the development of pedagogic thought4
The Development of Pedagogic Thought

“I seek education for humanity, and this only emanates through love”

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827):

  • Developed Rousseau’s core ideas
  • Education as a holistic process addressing head, heart, and hands
  • Head: not imposing knowledge, but stimulate curiosity
  • Heart: moral education, “without it, the other types would lose their sense of direction”
  • Hands: learning through physical activities, grasping the world
  • Head, heart, and hands are inseparable and corresponding with each other
  • Importance of observation and reflective practice
  • Role of pedagogue is to take care that “no untoward influence shall disturb nature’s march of development”
the development of pedagogic thought5
The Development of Pedagogic Thought

The children have been vested with unknown powers that could lead the way to a better future” (Maria Montessori)‏

New Education Movement:

  • Applied these thoughts into school context (Montessori, Steiner, Fröbel, Hahn)‏
  • Refined concept of children as competent (“A child has a hundred languages” - Malaguzzi) and as equals (“Children don’t become humans, they already are” - Korczak)‏
  • Development of child participation and children’s rights in pedagogic concepts of Montessori and Korczak
  • Mainstreamed pedagogic thinking beyond educational institutions  social pedagogy to address wider social issues and tackle disadvantage / social exclusion
social pedagogy explained
SocialPedagogyexplained …

“I prefer the word pedagogue to teacher. A teacher is someone paid by the hour to drill something into the child, while a pedagogue draws something out. If you want to be a pedagogue you have to learn to talk with children instead of to them. You have to learn to trust their capacities and possibilities.”

Janusz Korczak (1878 – 1942), Polish pedagogue, paediatrician and author

what is social pedagogy
What is Social Pedagogy?

Origin: Pedagogy – Greek pais (child), and agein(to lead, bring up)‏


  • Humanistic value base, e.g. respect, trust, unconditional appreciation
  • Fundamental concept of children as equal human beings with rich and extraordinary potential, as competent, resourceful and active agents
  • Inter-disciplinary theory combining concepts and models from sociology, psychology, education, philosophy, medical sciences and social work
what is social pedagogy8
What is Social Pedagogy?


  • Holistic education – education of head (cognitive knowledge), heart (emotional and spiritual learning), and hands (practical and physical skills)‏
  • Holistic well-being – strengthening health-sustaining factors
  • To enable children to grow up as self-responsible persons who take responsibility for their society
  • To promote human welfare and prevent or ease social problems
what is social pedagogy9
What is Social Pedagogy?


  • Through providing opportunities for learning (“It is not possible to teach; but it is possible to create situations wherein it is impossible not to learn”)‏
  • By building strong and positive authentic relationships which are non-hierarchical
  • Byenablingchildrentoempowerthemselves
  • Working in the everyday, focussing on the here and now, and being constantly reflective
  • Cultural impact on what is possible in practice – depending on social images of children, policy-context, regulations, qualifications
social pedagogy as an organic system
SocialPedagogyas an Organic System

“Social pedagogy is a theory of all the personal, social and moral education in a given society, including the description of what has happened in practice.”

Karl Mager (1810 – 1858), German ‘founding father’ of social pedagogy

Social pedagogy is deeply rooted in society and has grown organically into a coherent system, wherein theory meets practice.


“One should teach children to dance on a tightrope without a safety net, to sleep at night alone under the sky,

to row a boat out on the open sea.

One should teach them to imagine castles in the sky instead of houses on the ground,

to be nowhere at home but in life itself and to find security within themselves.“

Hans-Herbert Dreiske, German poet and social worker

the pedagogic triangle
The Pedagogic Triangle

“The essential thing is for the task to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality” (Maria Montessori)‏

Systemic Pedagogy

Pedagogic practice is embedded in societal context, corresponds with and influences social views on pedagogy and informs policy-making

Badry & Knapp, 2003


Pedagogy – Theory meets Practice

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (Fritz Perls)‏

Pedagogic practice is a holistic process creating a balance between:

  • the professional (theory and concepts, reflective practitioner – the ‘head’)
  • the personal (using one’s personality, positive attitude, building personal relationships, but keeping the ‘private’ out – the ‘heart’)
  • the practical (using certain methods and creative activities – the ‘hands’)

All three elements are equal and complement each other synergy


Professional Practical

the pedagogic approach
The Pedagogic Approach

‘The pedagogical approach rests on an image of a child as a complex social being with rich and extraordinary potential, rather than as an adult-in-waiting who needs to be given the right ingredients for optimal development. […] For pedagogues there is no universal solution, each situation requires a response based on a combination of information, emotions, self-knowledge and theory.’

Children’s Workforce Development Council, 2006

pedagogic concepts
Pedagogic Concepts


  • professional pedagogueknowing theories, explaining behaviour, reflectivity
  • personal pedagoguerelational contact, authenticity, using personality
  • private pedagoguepersonal boundaries of what is not shared
pedagogic concepts17
Pedagogic Concepts

“It is not possible to teach. But it is possible to create situations wherein it is impossible not to learn”

The Common Third:

  • Creating a commonly shared situation or activity as something third between pedagogue and child
  • Development of relationship around this activity, e.g. building a kite, cooking, football
  • Sharing and having something in common implies to be in an equal relationship with full participation of both
  • Both show a genuine interest in activity and are authentic - use of personality as a resource
  • Holistic education - common potential for learning
the state of research on social pedagogy
The State of Research on SocialPedagogy

Comparative research on residential child care in Denmark, Germany and England has shown the benefits of social pedagogy on improving the life experience of children in care.

While the level of staff qualification is a significant factor, so is the welfare system – different countries value residential care very differently.

research on social pedagogy
Research on Social Pedagogy

Qualifications of Workers (Cameron, 2008)

Which of these pillars represents Germany, England and Denmark respectively?

research on social pedagogy20
Research on Social Pedagogy

Numbers of Children in Care (Cameron, 2008)

Which of these pillars shows the distribution in England / Denmark / Germany?

research on social pedagogy21
Research on Social Pedagogy

Key work responsibilities (Cameron, 2008)

Which graph colour belongs to Denmark, Germany and England respectively?





References on Social Pedagogy

Cameron, C. (2004). Social pedagogy and care: Danish and German practice in young people’s residential care. Journal of Social Work, 4(2), 133-151.

Doyle, M. E., & Smith, M. K. (1997). Jean-Jacques Rousseau on education. The Encyclopaedia of Informal Education. Available online: (accessed: 20/02/09)

Eichsteller, G. (forthcoming). Social Pedagogy in Britain – further developments. Social Work & Society Online News Magazine (

Hämäläinen, J. (2003). The Concept of Social Pedagogy in the Field of Social Work. Journal of Social Work, 3(1), 69-80.

Mollenhauer, K. (1964). Einführung in die Sozialpädagogik.Weinheim: BeltzVerlag. (English translation available soon on

Petrie, P., Boddy, J., Cameron, C., Wigfall, V. & Simon, A. (2006). Working with Children in Care – European Perspectives. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Smith, M. K. (2009). Social Pedagogy. The Online Encyclopaedia of Informal Education. Available online: (accessed: 20/02/09)